“Cabinet lighting has been around for many years. Early installations by carpenters, handymen, and electricians were crude but effective. They had to cobble together lighting fixtures using a plethora of spare parts, hide the wiring, and fabricate shielding for the specific installations without damaging the furniture or causing a fire. With each installation, the techniques grew more sophisticated and methods were improved and adopted by individuals into styles. Because of the inherent complexity, few people are truly skilled at installing custom cabinet lighting. Companies that specialize in custom cabinet lighting are few and far between.
As a young electrician for Rulon Electric, and later as the principle of Illuminations Lighting Design, I worked extensively in affluent homes in River Oaks, and was exposed to early variations and the history of cabinet lighting. I fell in love with the charm and history of cabinet lighting and quickly became a student of custom cabinet lighting techniques, developing my own style and brand, called Phantom Lighting in the early 1980s.
Like my predecessors, I had to develop prototypes that would adapt to a variety of mounting orientations. I started by exploring new light sources that operated on low voltage transformers, small electrical devices that convert power from one voltage to another. I wanted to convert 120 volt house current to a safe 12 volt system so that the wiring would be simple, safe, and easy to conceal.
Once I found the perfect light source, I moved my attention to shielding the lights and developed specialized lighting trims that concealed the light source from any viewing angle. With each application unique, it required a custom trim for mounting lights horizontally and vertically. It was here that the term “See the light, not the fixture” was coined.
Next, I turned my attention to designing a variety of wiring methods. This included wiring techniques for fixed applications and cabinets with adjustable shelves. I came up with the idea of electrifying the metal shelf supports using low voltage current as a conducting means to each individual shelf. The idea for the adjustable shelf wiring technique was so well received that I applied for and was awarded a US Patent in 1987.
Phantom’s Classic cabinet lighting systems were originally designed with incandescent festoon lamps, but throughout the years have been updated to Xenon and LED festoon lamping options to follow market trends. With the advent of LED lighting tape, I was able to create the Elite and Ultra series using new proprietary trim designs. Both of these systems are available in shielded and lensed options, as well as a variety of Kelvin color temperatures, giving the Phantom product line more versatility than ever before.
The migration to cove lighting from cabinet lighting was easy. With my proven recipe, I created a new series of trims that would handle straight lines as well as radius turns – and cove lighting was born. Today, Phantom is a leader in linear lighting systems that can be used throughout your home or office as an accent lighting source.”
Tom Kretzschmar has dedicated the better part of his life to the art and science of lighting. As owner of multiple companies in the lighting sector, he has studied art, architecture, design, and electrical wiring throughout his career. His multidisciplinary skill set has enabled him to master the complex nuances of interior lighting, exterior lighting, advanced landscape lighting, and commercial lighting systems.
Tom founded his first company over thirty years ago. Back then, most lighting companies were niche market services, providing services such as fine art lighting. Tom had a vision of combining these services with the scientific practicalities of sound home wiring design. This would enable the private art collector to enjoy museum quality fine art lighting in the privacy of his or her own home.
To this day, the recipe for Phantom Classic, Phantom Elite, and Phantom Ultra LED lighting remains the same with thousands of applications installed worldwide. Tom and his lighting creations have definitely hold a spot in the history of cabinet lighting. If you would like more information about our LED cabinet lighting, LED fine art lighting or our LED cove lighting systems, please contact us toll-free at 800-863-1184 or request a quote using our online form.